The government on Wednesday gave the American Embassy in New Delhi a week’s time to close down a multi-purpose club on its premises, running in violation of the Geneva Convention.
The club includes a bar, pool, beauty parlour, restaurant, bowling alley and tennis courts. Outsiders including Indian government officials, businessmen and journalists were entertained at the club which was meant only for American Embassy diplomats.
India generally overlooks this misuse by embassies but has reeled in exceptions to U.S. diplomats after a fall out between the two countries over the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York on December 12.
India began withdrawing all special privileges to the U.S. Embassy and the consulate staff, not extended to its staff posted in America. Last week, the government asked the U.S. Culture Centre to not screen movies as it didn’t have a licence for the purpose. After a Monday evening meeting between U.S. Ambassador Nancy Powell and Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh saw no movement on the Khobragade issue, officials spoke of implementing more measures.
India is seeking an apology from the U.S. and withdrawal of charges against the diplomat. The crackdown on quasi-commercial establishments in the Embassy and instructions not to make exceptions for the U.S. embassy are part of the approach to treat U.S. Counsellors on par with Indian Counsellors in the U.S.
Identity cards giving special privileges to U.S. diplomats in consulates have already been recalled and replaced with ones that put them on par with their Indian counterparts in the U.S. Their airport passes have been cancelled and barricades outside the U.S. embassy have been removed as part of this “reciprocity”.